By Michael Bielawski
A man in Barre has been busted for dealing fentanyl out of his dwelling, a violation of state law. Meanwhile the United States Attorney’s Office is asking landlords for help to catch illicit drug creators and distributors.
It’s all part of recognition by state and federal authorities that Vermont’s drug dealing happens in apartments where either the tenant, or the landlord, or both know the deadly practice is taking place. The federal effort appears to be mostly education and outreach. On the state level, there are punishments for both tenant and landlord if they are convicted of a drug-related dwelling crime.
The Barre police report reads, “At 6 AM October 13, 2023, after a lengthy investigation, Barre City officers executed a search warrant at an apartment at the 400 block of North Main Street in Barre. Jonie Bresett, 51, and Jeffrey Caron, 42, both of Barre were found with 22.77 grams of crack cocaine, 7 bindles of fentanyl, .59 grams of bulk fentanyl, and $3,500 cash.”
It continues that both were charged with “fentanyl trafficking, sale of cocaine, dispensing out of a dwelling, and possession of a regulated drug.”
Law enforcement wants help from landlords
In December of last year, the United States Attorney’s Office put out a policy specifically asking that landlords become more involved in aiding law enforcement to catch drug dealers.
“As part of that work, we are reaching out to landlords and property managers to enlist their help in discouraging drug activity in rental units they own and operate,” the post states.
It continues that since 2000 the state has had more than a 770% increase in treatments for opiate addiction as well as a 250% increase in treatments for heroin addiction.
It states, “We ask that you please assist us in our efforts to disrupt the trafficking of controlled substances. Property owners and managers like you have the ability, and the responsibility, to prevent the use of housing units for the trafficking and manufacturing of controlled substances.”
The document includes advice for landlords when they are beginning the leasing process. It says to “Ask questions to learn who they are” and to consider asking for references from other landlords or property managers from where they lived before.
It also suggests that landlords ask for written agreements that state that if the tenant is found to be dealing or creating drugs then that will be grounds for eviction.
State law specifically addresses the issue
According to existing Vermont state law, it is already illegal for landlords to knowingly allow a tenant to deal or create drugs.
It states, “No person shall knowingly permit a dwelling, building, or structure owned by or under the control of the person to be used for the purpose of illegally selling a regulated drug.”
It continues that a landlord can potentially be “imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $15,000.00, or both” if the state concludes that the landlord knew about the illicit actions but took no action to address the situation.
Vermont man arrested for using NY dwelling to distribute drugs
A Vermont man recently was arrested for having large amounts of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms in his apartment in Saratoga, N.Y. He is Daniel Mooney, 34, and he is facing multiple charges.
He was caught because he had everything out “in plain view” for the police to see while they were there to investigate a fire alarm. Police seized “589 grams of psilocybin mushrooms, 170 pounds of cannabis and 75 pounds of concentrated cannabis” from the dwelling. A report can be found here.
Vermont landlord got in trouble for allowing tenants to deal drugs
In September of 2022, both a landlord and a tenant were sued by Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage for alleged drug dealing. There was a police raid of the apartment in question.
“For too long, landlords have turned a blind eye to what is happening in their rental units,” said Marthage to the Bennington Banner.
The author is a reporter for the Vermont Daily Chronicle